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VERDICT: Bury 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0
ANTON Forrester’s seventh goal of the season may have secured a vital three points for Bury, but it was the team’s senior pros who earned the plaudits for a resilient rearguard action.
The 19-year-old on-loan Blackburn striker tucked away the winner in the 34th-minute to stretch his lead as the club’s top scorer.
But the flowing move that set up the goal was the exception rather than rule in a match short on chances, played out in filthy weather on a pudding pitch.
So it was the grit and determination shown to grind out the win that most impressed Shakers boss David Flitcroft.
“Before we came in I think the club had only kept four clean sheets all season, so the fact we have had three from our last four matches is a pleasing stat for me,” he said.
“I have talked quite a lot about how I want the game to be played and how I want the ball to be moved around the pitch, but the character and resilience these lads showed to dig in and not accept them scoring a goal was good.”
Forrester had fired a warning shot across the Wycombe bows with an earlier strike that flew just over.
But the visitors failed to heed the warning and were eventually punished by an incisive counter attack that featured a sublime ball by Ashley Grimes to put in the teenage marksman, who turned well in the box before rifling a low shot into the bottom corner.
The Shakers controlled possession and threatened with some breathtaking build up play, but their one-touch passing on a heavy pitch occasionally let them down, with defender Pablo Mills making a couple of errors that went unpunished.
Midfielders Stuart Lewis and Nick Arnold tested Brian Jensen in the Bury goal with a couple of stinging shots before the break.
And Grimes hit the side netting early in the second half for a Shakers side that featured three debutants.
Striker Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro started in place of the injured Daniel Nardiello, while central midfielder Andrew Tutte looked good alongside Tommy Miller, who was making his 500th league appearance.
And veteran forward Clive Platt came off the bench to act as a first line of defence in the closing stages.
Despite all the changes, the Shakers looked a cohesive unit, standing up well to increased Wycombe pressure.
Anthony Stewart’s 85th-minute header, which looped on to the roof of the Bury net, was the closest the visitors came to scoring as new centre back Jim McNulty, making only his second appearance, put in a faultless performance to hold the Bury backline together.
And the effort put in by the old guard did not go unnoticed.
“When the muck and bullets are flying, sometimes young kids can go under, but I think we’ve got a very good, experienced spine to the team now to deal with that,” said Flitcroft.
“We’ve managed to ride a bit of a storm and I have been delighted with the application shown by the lads.”
BURY: Jensen 7; Veseli 7, Mills 6, McNulty 9; Jones 8, Miller 7, Tutte 7, Sedgwick 7, Grimes 7 (Procter 6 68); Forrester 8 (Obadeyi 6 78), Akpa Akpro 6 (Platt 6 58). Not used: Hinds, Soares, Burke, Charles-Cook.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS: Ingram; McCoy, Johnson (Stewart 54), Doherty, Mustoe (Cowan-Hall 71); Arnold, Scowen, Lewis, Wood; Styche, MClure (Jeffrey 86). Not used: Bloomfield, Horlock, Kuffour, Kretzschmar.
Goals: Bury 1 (Forrester 34) Wycombe Wanderers 0.
Yellow cards: Bury – Jensen 87. Wycombe Wanderers – Arnold 55, Wood 64, Mustoe 68.
Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire)
Attendance: 2,818 (171 visiting)
Star man: Jim McNulty – Chairman Stewart Day wants Bury to be a Championship team within five years, but in McNulty they already look to have at least one Championship-standard player. The 29-year-old centre-back’s composure with and without the ball stood him apart from the rest in a team that included a number of laudable individual performances. A towering presence at set-pieces, the big defender also started much of Bury’s attacking play. His free transfer from Barnsley looks to be one of the steals of the season.
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